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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  October 15, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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. >> welcome to the program, i'm al hunt of bloomberg view sitting in for charlie rose who is away on assignment. we begin tonight with a look at last night's democratic presidential debate. i'm joined by magazineie haberman and roger altman. >> the reality is she is a very good debater. she did something like 25 of these in 2008 against candidates who were seen as much more viable potential presidential nominees. she was very good in 2 thousand as well as a u.s. senate candidate. so it was not a surprise. but she was, i think, the best i've seen her in a debate. she was loose. she looked like she was having fun. >> we continue with charlie's interview with niall ferg sofnl he talks about his new biography on henry kissinger. >> i'm running up against the most wide spread assumption by henry kissinger, that he's the arch realist. at one extreme you have those
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that think he is in fct a criminal. even in the middle ground the majority of people would say he's the realist. he is the business mark of our time, or the mack yo villee of our time. as i began to read through his private papers, his correspondent, his diaries to read thur row lee what he had written as an academic, i was struck how different my impression was. >> the dem kraict debate and niall ferguson when we continue. >> rose: funding for charlyeastd by american express, additional funding provided by: bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. >> from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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>> good evening, i'm al hunt of bloomberg view. charlie rose is on assignment. we begin with a first democratic presidential debate. five candidates took the stage at the wynn hotel in las vegas last night but all eyes were on the two frontrunners. hillary clinton and bernie sanders traded jabs on wall street reform. >> my plan would have the potential of actually sending the executives to jail, nobody went to jail after a hundred billion dollars in fines were paid. and would give regulators the authority to go after the big banks. >> in my view, secretary all street regulates congress. and we have got to break off these fights. >> clinton went on the offensive against her opponent on gun control. >> is bernie sanders tough enough on guns?
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>> no, not at all. i think we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. this has gone on too long and it's time the entire country stood up against the nra. the majority of our country-- (applause) >> supports background checks and even the majority of gun owners do. senator sanders did vote five times against the brady bill. since it was passed more than 2 million prohinted purchases have been prevented. he also did vote, as he said, for this immunity provision. i voted against it i was in the senate at the same time it wasn't that complicated to me. it was pretty straight forward to me. >> however sanders tried to bail her out on the e-mail controversy. >> let me say something that may not be great politics. but i think the secretary is right. and that is that the american people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. >> thank you.
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me too. me too! >> you know? (applause) >> the three other candidates challenged clinton but largely struggled to share the spotlight. joining me now is magazineie haberman. she has covered hillary clinton extensively and is the presidential campaign correspondent for "the new york times" and political analyst for cnn. and roger altman, founder and executive chairman of everkorp. he was deputy treasury secretary in the bill clinton administration and is now a supporter of hillary clinton. welcome to you both. maggie let me start with you. over at the brooklyn headquarters of hillary clinton are they popping champagne korks today. >> from there to nevada where the debate took place and where much of her staff was. they were very with her performance. she had a very strong night by all accounts. i think that the expectations were low, which helped herment but the reality is she is a very good debater. she did something like 25 of these in 2008 against candidates who were seen as much more viable, potential presidential
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nominees. she was very good in 2 thousand as well as a u.s. senate candidate. so it was not a surprise but she was, i think, the best i've seen her in a debate. she was loose. she looked like she was having fun. >> having fun. >> which is not something you associate usually with hillary clinton that is something you have seen her do much of in this campaign. you have had jeb bush saying that thing wanting to run a joyful campaign, once upon a time. this has been a joyless campaign for all involved certainly on the clinton side. she really seemed to be enjoying herself. and i think that she was comfortable going on the offense against bernie sanders. she was doing it carefully. she was watching her tone. she was not sounding nasty. she was not sounding like she was belittling him. >> sthe. >> she can sometimes look like she is talking down to the person when she disagrees with them. that was the risk. but she also knew what punches she wanted to get in and she had early openings on gun, which was a very early one. she was able to defen herself well on the iraq
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war which bern ye sanders did not address for her, her vote for authorizing force in iraq in 2002 which he had sort of signaled ahead of time he would. but she basically used president obama as a shield at that point. and it was a really interesting moment. she had a good night. >> she hit bernie on the left from gun, she hit him a bit on the right from capitalism. she really was on the offensive for most of these issues. >> the whole setsup allowed her, i think, to do that. first of who she was debating against. also, we can all debate that people have different views. i thought she was the only one who actually looked presidential. sanders did fine at a certain level but i don't think he rose to that level of presidentialness. i got the sense as i said, she sensed that early on in the did he bait and it allowed her to be confident and relaxed. but she was in control. >> roger, let me ask you. as one of the titans of wall street, is hillary clinton. >> is that a technical term. >> is hillary clinton a born again populist on wall street? >> i think you have to unpack
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some of the positions she has taken which have been different than she has taken in the past. i think for example ttp is different than wall street pormd. they aren't the same thing politically or otherwise. but no, i think the proposals she's made on wall street reform actually make sense. i not only support them but i
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i-- i-- i. >> the higher capital gains tax rate for things, for assets that are held short term, the risk fee, tax for banks. >> both of those i would t on taxes, everybody has a'tsm point of view, mine isn't the most popular in the financial comeumentd. but the highest earners need to pay more in taxes. >> let's talk about glass legislation, passed i believe in
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1933. i will check that year, which ngaging in what today we callm investment banking. >> and then repealed in '99. >> right, under bill clinton so what you see today, and especially saw in 2008 which is the biggest commercial-- excuse me, investment banks are also the biggest yoafer all banks, was what glass steagall, 08 years ago, 90 years ago prohinted. but-- but much of the thrurs of regulations in 2008, dodd-frank, had the-- rule and other aspects of the much tighter, which isn't ended, much tighter push toward closer supervision and fighter control, much of the thrurs of that has been towards requiring the banks to wind down, maybe too strong but to limit, progressively limit a lot of the activities that were at the heart of 2008. for example, proprietary
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interest trading. the volker rule effectively shuts that down. >> you are-- i think you both are right. she was in command on most of these issues. i personally thought one expectation was on the tpp, the transpacific pact where magazineie, it maybe seemed disingenuous. she called this the gold standard when she was secretary of staift. everyone knew what the basic con towrs of the fact were. labor was dead set against it. bernie challenged her from the left. she wasn't very con fins-- convincing last night on that. >> she had trouble with that. i just want to add one point on glass steagall. this is actually an issue where she-- she had to debate this in 2 thousand in the u.s. senate race, rick lasio, her opponent then made a huge issue of the repeal. she dealt with this before. there were efforts by not just sanders but o'malley in particular to address calling for reinstating it. she has refused, i think,
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because she genuinely does not believe it should be reinstated. i think this was an issue where she would be accused of political expedient if she switched. she doesn't actually think it and she is being criticized by some on the left for not doing it. so i think that is a little trickier. i think that her policy position on that issue were not problem attic last night so much as her-- language. but on tpp, that is a much trickier needle to thread. this deal again while she was secretary of state, she once referred to it as the gold standard, potentially for trade deals. she does have a history of not supporting trade deals in her career, that is true. and her advisors will point to that. however this began under her. and she carried it throughout. and she took a very long time to say that she was against it. she basically gave the criteria for why she would be against it back in april that involved the absence of the currency manipulation and a focus on it. it was clear from the get-go
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that that would not be in. there she could have said awhile ago that she was not in favor of this. >> i want to ask roger knowing he is an avid supporter of hillary clinton. currency-- are never in trade deels, do you that separately, so that's a phoney reason. >> although, there was a push as maggie said some time ago lead by chuck schumer to get it in. it was never, you right, going to happen. she wasn't the only one. >> but the other thing, she was the one that tawkd the great deal about the pivot to asia. it's hard to pivot to asia if you are against the tpp. >> i thought last night she said the only thing she could say here. which was when the facts change, i change my view. which is a pretty good line but what else can you say. >> you can't. >> that's all she could say. so it wasn't going to be a winning moment probably for her no matter how she handled it. i think she said all she could. >> also she didn't have any opponent to seize on it last night. >> except the opponent that would have seedz on it would have been bernie sarynds am and
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i was surprised he didn't seize on it. >> or somebody who supports it. >> right, but i think what i thought he was going to do was seize on it more as an example of her switching positions. i thought he would hit her harder than was actually done. it was mostly the mod rater, anderson cooper, who raised it as an issue. i do think that this is an area where she has left herself vulnerable. to the extent that she waited so long on this. bernie sanders swallowed up all of the progressive energy on the left. he swallowed up a lot of the union energy. and she has really seen concern within unions, which is part of what i think is driving this, in terms of her move to come against it she waited until there was officially a deal and two days later said i'm not in favor of this as it. is i think it was not convincing for a lot of people that she would be so familiar with the details after two days, that she would say no. so she gets all of the criticism as flip flopping and not very much of the benefit. >> right. >> maggie, there is a consensus she did great. they were happy, very few people, even a number of
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republicans told me they agree with that. i don't know if it's true, however, that bernie did poorly i think bernie probably kept that base. i think he raised 1.3 million in four hours. and he may not have grown that base any. roger said earlier he didn't look presidential. that may be. but i don't think he hurt himself in iowa or new hampshire. >> not at all am i agree that he did not clear the bar, i think, for looking presidential. you about i don't know that he was ever going to clear that bar. what he didn't look is wild eyed. he didn't look scary in the way that i think you have said a lot of people that hillary clinton suggest he might be. and i think that people forget that the democratic party base, especially in presidential contests, is very liberal. and so a lot of his positions are going to be very appealing in places like say iowa. i don't think this is going to hurt him. and i think that there is no question she did well. but i agree with you. did he not do badly. and he remained true to himself which is actually very important. did he not look, except for occasionally on language on guest worker visas on the immigration bill and on guns
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where he was clearically-- clearly struggling, being from a rural state is not necessarily a great answer. but at the end of the day, i think that his supporters are still going to be with him. i think that what would be dangerous for hillary clinton supporters would be to expect that the overall numbers are going to change, they are probably not. i think her favorable ratings which have been very low lately, are probably going to gup. but that's it. >> and the odds are overwhelming that she is going to be the democratic nominee. we'll talk about joe biden in a moment. but i would think her greatest fear right now is that bernie wins iowa and new hampshire. which is not beyond the realm of pont. >>-- possibility. >> i'm not smart enough to know because that is still quite a ways off, whether that scenario could manifest itself or not. if i were in the political campaign and i'm not anywhere near that, i would think that she still is reasonably well-positioned in iowa. but never the less, even if that does happen, it would just take
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an earthquake for sanders to be the nominee. >> oh, yes. >> and he disunt have any-- the best i can tell any serious organization and deep following in nevada and south carolina, the two next states. and she is just a much more national candidate that he is. so maybes that scenario happens. maybe it doesn't, but i still think she's going to be the nominee. >> i think everyone broke up realizing that. >> maggie, the walk-on trio, o'malley, webb and chaffee, there were really no moments. >> i thought o'malley performed fine. i thought he did not have any breakout moments. he seemed uncertain how aggressively he wanted to go after hillary clinton. he in fact went harder on bernie sanders on guns than he did on hillary clinton other than the iraq war. >> he showed some hesitance. there is no question. lincoln chaffee was most memorable for essentially saying cut me some slack because of how i voted in 1999. >> i just got to this. >> my father had passed away.
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and jim webb, other than sendzing-- spending much of his time complaining about having not enough time was most mem-- memorable for the moment when was asked about the enemies he was proudest of. and he was talking about when he was a solder, which is a serious moment if you read about it in his career, that involves saving other soldiers. what he said the enemy soldier who threw a grenade to me is not around to speak any more. he flashed a grin. it was an uncomfortable moment. >> is there anything in national security which we were rather light on the debate last night. anything that you thought was an important moment, a defining moment, a surprising moment? >> no, but she, know, that is her strong suit. i mean by a lot of democratic standards, secretary clinton is relatively hawkish. and i think a lot of people who follow these things know that. she is also obviously hugely experienced. and so that's her strong suit. i think generally speaking, sure there are a couple of exception,
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potentially libya which didn't come up the way it might have last night. but a couple of exceptions, that is her strong suit. >> i did think to myself, because i also missed tim russert who i thought was the best at this business. tim russert would not let her get away with the libyan-- lib why misadventure, not benghazi but the libya signature issue. it was her signature issue, and it has really gone south t has been terrible. or the reset with russia. simply saying putin was in charge but she really wasn't challenged by any of her opponents last night on that, was she? >> no, absolutely not. she gave a quick answer. o'malley had sort of a tissue thin response on foreign policy and bernie sanders was at his most at sea on these issues. so nobody wanted to challenge her because nobody wanted the spotlight turning to them for any length of time. >> in a week the benghazi hearings. another opportunity, a problem, what are the people in clintonland expect? >> they're very excited about this. they were excited about this even before kevin mccarthy,
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the house majority leader, basically tethered her declining poll numbers to the work of this committee. which was a gift to them. him then descropping out of the speakers' race was a gift to them. and then this drip drip revelations about the work of the committee. a man who worked for it said essentially this is a political mission aimed at destroying her. which confirmed how her folks see it and her supporters see it they see her testimony, her previous congressional testimony when she was about to leave the state department as a really strong defining moment for her. they believe this will be a chance for her to address her critics face to face. most of them expect that house republicans will cross the line or go overboard or be too aggressive with her. i'm not certain that that will happen. but i think that if they don't, i think she probably wins either way. >> roger, assuming that the fbi doesn't come up with anything, if that's the case, if what maggie just outlined, do you think that basically ends not only the benghazi but also the
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e-mail server controversy that so dominated the last six or seven months. >> i don't know how to judge that. i think if i had to bet i would doubt it, just politics being what it is. and the press being what it is. but i agree entirely. the hearing is a big opportunity. it's almost entirely outside for mrs. clinton and one of two things is going to happen. either the republicans are going to overreach and she'll look like the only adult. or they're going to be tim i had and she is going to look like the strong person. so she can't lose. and she is very good at this type of thing. maggie was eluding to earlier. >> as long as she doesn't come across at arrogant. >> i don't think she will. >> it is an opportunity. >> there was one person missing last night, the vice president of the united states. there has been all kinds of con jecture over recent weeks. my guess, let me at least throw this out, that he is not affected by last night's debate. there are other factors. i think most of which are against
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joe biden running am i know that is not shaird. do you agree? >> i think that if joe biden is looking rationally at what the path is for him, i think that he comes up with the answer that there is not much of one. i think that was true before last night's debate. last night, hillary clinton gave democrats who were feeling sort of iffy about her something to grab on to and a reason to get excited about her. and that is, i think, where the debate does factor in. i think that joe biden has gone through a terrible personal tragedy and i think it is harder to predict where he is will come down on this. because it seems to me he feels about it differently depending on the day and depending on who he is speaking to. i would assume he does not run only because the hour is getting late. the money that would need to be raised is a lot. and his path was always going to be if she implodes in some way. if something comes up with the fbi investigation. and he could get in later. and so there really is no reason to actually do this right now. >> and no clammer from the donor
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base for a new entry of joe biden entry. >> not nearly enough from the point of view of rationalizing the candidaciment i agree with maggie. i really have a great deal of respect for vice president biden. i really like him he enormously. but i didn't think he was going to run before last night. i don't think he's going to run now. it's a good thing in my view for the biden legacy that he not. >> we only have a few seconds left. but let me just put out one kind of cautionary note which is, or ask the question, do debates matter that much? again, people said hillary clinton did great in 08ee. somebody else got the nomination. >> they matter to the elite, whatever that precisely means. and the elites have various levels of influence. and that seeps in various ways. i think they do matter. maybe not directly but importantly indirectly. there is no question that what maggie said, how do people who are inclined toward mrs. clinton, but maybe not completely sure, feel today.
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well, they feel strong. they feel confident. they feel good. and that was about last night's performance and that is important. >> i think in 2008 she had all of these debates. she did generally very well except for one where tim russert moderated and she messed up on the issue of undocumented immigrants and drivers license. and that is when people were tuning in. but in 2008 you had a lot of democratic voters who were inclined to find a reason not to vote for her. those debated help give a reason. i think you have democrats who are more inclined to want to be with her and they need her to give a reason and they got it last night. >> whatever we think of those other four candidates there was no barack obama on that stage last night, roger altman and maggie haberman, thank you so much foreign lightening us on this. and we'll be back in just a moment. >> rose: niall ferguson is heret harvard and hold as pointments at stanford and oxford. his latest book is "kissinger: the idealist" part one of a two
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volume biography that has been tenniers in the making. former secretary of state james baker calls it a master piece. i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> a master piece secretary baker says. >> i'll take that. >> rose: i bet you did? this brit from oxford and harvard and other places, and this secretary of state and world figure looking for someone, probably, to write his biography. >> if he was looking and phoned me, i think was a second, maybe even the third on the list of people he approached. now i tell the story in the preface in the spirit of full disclosure. we met at a drinks party in london am and we were talking history. we were talking about the first world war. we had got on. he had read some of my earlier stuff. and after a kind of courtship, i suppose, he suggested i write his biography. >> rose: he was recording you.i.
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i said no. i hesitated. >> rose: what is the problemthe. >> i hesitated but eventually i couldn't resist the fight in fact, what happened was that after i said no, i really can't do. this he wrote one of those henry kissinger letters that-- he is famous for. >> rose: you said i can't dothi. >> i declined after much agonizing. >> he wrote and said what a great pity because i just made up my mind you were the ideal person to do this, in fact. and moreover, i just found 150 box of my private papers that i thought i had mislaid. and like a fish seeing a large fly, i bit and went and looked at the papers that were at his house in connecticut. and within a matter of hours of reading through some of these early letters, his vietnam diary, fragments of documents, i knew i had to do it. >> rose: it's two volumes.yeah. >> rose: have you finished thee. >> no. no. i'm halfway. and-- . >> rose: to 1968.yes, literally,
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i've got 46 years, so it means i have 46 to go. it means that this tantalizing break at the end, the story in volume one ends just as he comes into his new office in the white house to be richard nixon's national security advisor. so this is a book about a refugee, a soldier, it's a book about an academic, an amateur political advisor. it's not the book about the statesman that i still have to write. >> rose: it's interesting.becaun interview with him at a location here about his experience in the war. and about the holocaust-- how many cost and his father, and his family. he had not talked about it. it was surprising. >> yes, that story. >> rose: i called up and saidwh. >> and i was in the midst of writing this then. st a story that has never been thoroughly told on the basis of documents which i was able to piece together from all over the
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world. it's an extraordinary story, not extraordinary in the sense that there were many jewish families that fled germany in the 1930s and came to the united states. but it is extraordinary because of the way it influenced him am it shaped him. and i don't think you can understand kissinger until you have read those parts of the book that deal with his early life, childhood, teenage years and the na did is, exiled to the united states, con scrings and returned to ger plannee after just six years in a u.s.-- uniform. >> rose: and stayed behind afte. >> it's a remarkable sequence of events. he's present at the liberation of a concentration camp. after the war ends, he discovers that all of his relatives who had remained in germany had been killed including his grandmother. and yet he elects to stay on, to his parents amazement, and doesn't return to the united states until the summer of 1947. serving first in counterintelligence and then in a military school, because, and
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he writes this in one of a few of his extraordinary letters to his parents, because he says, when i looked around the table and i saw the spaces where my fallen comrads had been, i felt we had to stay on and make sure that there sacrifice had not been in vein. and that is the henry kissinger that i don't think many of your viewer also ever have encountered before. >> rose: what did thatexperienc? how did it shape who is he today? >> two things, i think. like anybody who fawt in world war 2-rbgs he saw conflict on a scale that we today struggle to imagine. i think it's enormously difficult for anyone of my generation, i'm a last gas baby boomer born in 1964, to imagine what it was like to northbound one's early 20s in the battlefield that was europe. so he saw war on a massive and shocking scale. the secretary thing that i think was crucial was that he lost his
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religious faith during the war. and that led tow a very painful series of exchanges with his parents in which he tried to explain to them why he could never really come back to the orthodox ju daism that he had been brought up in. his brother had a similar experience. he served in the pacific theater. so these events, the holocaust, but i think even more the war itself, fundamentally shaped him. when he returned to the united states in 1947 to go and study at harvard under the gi bill, he made it clear to his parents in another of these amazing letters, i'm fundamentally changed. this has changed me. this experience has made me different. i see the world differently now. and can i never see it the way-- . >> rose: saw the worlddifferent. >> there is one extraordinary letter that he says, again to his parents. to you everything is black and white but i see things in different shades of gray. he had gone to work after the end of the hostilities as in fek
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a nazi huntser in counterintelligence and intergating and trying to find the most egregious nazis under the denazification program. and this was a very important part of his life, confronting all the shades of gray of collaboration, of participation in a to tal tarrian regime. when he was back studying at harvard, this was a great preoccupation of his-- this notion that there are these impossibly difficult decisions that one sometimes has to make in life between evil. when there is no good choice. and those are the kinds of decisions the germans have had to make under the third reich. >> rose: there were two things n interview with, whatever else there is about him, it is one in his dna of the sense of a necessity of a strong central government. because of what he went through too. and also a fierce nationalism.
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kissinger seems to have, to me, the same sense of the nation state is an essential element of the structure of civilization. and the idea of the order between nation states is worth a lifetime of participation and study. >> order is a hugely important concept in all of kissinger's work, right down to his most recent book, world order. and it's there right at the outset in his doctoral dissertation. it's interesting the way he defines it. is he concerned with the kind of relations between the states that constitute an international order. how the states are constituted internally, he sees as a matter of history. history what makes the united states think in terms of freedom and in terms of democracy. whereas history has made the russian state a very different thing. so kissinger is i think because of his historical training, and years in many way academically more historian than anything
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else, he is somebody who sees these different types of government as products of history, therefore he doesn't have an expectation that in some bright future there will be per pet all peace in a world of western style democracy. i don't think that is ever something that he has fore seen. so he is accepting of, i think, putin's argument that we, because of our history, we in russia are different. >> absolutely, especially world war ii. at the same time he has said about iran, they have to decide whether they want to be a revolutionary force or a nation state. >> this is a very important concept in his writing, that an international order's biggest problem is a revolutionary state that challenges the legitimacy of the order. the advent of a rev reutionary iran fundamentalically changed the international order. in some ways it was as profound an event of the opening to china in the early 1970s that we soarnt with his time in government.
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and that revolutionary state still poses a problem. and one can see that in his krits kal writing at the time that the iran deal was being negociated. there is a fundamental sceptd civil on-- skepticism on his part that you can really bring an international regime into the order the way the president is trying to do. >> rose: i sment most people why kissinger, niall ferguson, historian, and then they see idealist, and they say really? idealist? >> this might seem like a plof kaition. prove kaition and i imagine there are some viewers that are reeling at the idea of calling kissinger an idealist. >> rose: i can tell you one,thef kissinger that said to me, idealist? >> i am running up against the most widespread assumption that he is an arch realist. you have those that think is he a criminal. but in the middle ground the majority of people would say he is the realist.
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he is the business mark of our time, or the machievelai of our time. as i read through his private papers, cor response, diaries, i was struck by how very different my impression was. he was not at all a realist. he was critical of business mark, critical of dns dns business mark was somebody who preoccupied him, the man who unified germany. but when you read the unpublished book he wrote about business mark, he only published part of it as an article, you realize it is really a critique of business mark's realism. here i mean realism in the sense of all i care about is the interest of my state. and i will do anything, whatever it takes to advance its interests. the young kissinger, certainly the kissinger to the end of 1968 does not think that way. and clashed with the arch realist at the time. >> rose: so you are saying her,e
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life of henry kissinger, that up until he entered government, there is a lot to argue that he was an idealist and how he looked at. >> absolutely. >> rose: the place is sten philosophy. an idealist in the philosophical sense. convinced world war 2 had come about because of the realism of the appease, he said the appease thought they were great realists so he certainly doesn't regard it as a compliment when he is writing that. and then thirdly is he an idealist because he rejects materialism. not just marxism, leninism, but all those doctrines of the 209 senlt ree that say it's all about economics. henry kissinger rejects even capitalist materialism. those people who say the gold war say race between exphek systems and our growth rate will be higher and therefore we will win. he said it's not about that. >> rose: the sov yetd unioncouls economy. >> i think kissinger's view from the outset is it's not about economics. its' about values and it's ultimately only winnable if our
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values are seen to transcend theirs. >> rose: then the question come? >> well, i think he did. >> rose: both in terms of how hu know, how he acted as a power. >> well, this is-- i call it a building for man, an easy kaitional story, a man who learns by experience as well as by study. a good example of this is the case of south vietnam. in the late 50s and early 60s, kissinger like many people in the united states thought of this in terms of self-determination. south vietnam did not want to be ruled by north vietnam and the united states should go into bat for it as a free society, to avoid further dom knows falling to communism in southeast asia. once he starts looking closely at the problem and especially once he goes there in 1965 and 1966, he changes his view and comes to realize that whatever the merits of that argument, it is not possible to rescue south
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vietnam, certainly not by the military methods that the united states are doing. so his view on neat vam changed and it changed early, much earlier than people realized. those who think that he relished prolonging the war when he got into government have to reckon with the fact that he had already given it up as a lost cause. >> rose: the same peace treatym. >> that of course is a key question that i have to address in volume two. and i want to be completely frank. i haven't made up my mind yet about that. but i think-- . >> rose: you haven't made upyoun everything else. >> that is work in progress. i'm in the midst of archives trying to figure it out. >> rose: let's talk about acent. his relationship with family. you had gone through a divorce when you were writing this. so it was anguish for you. he went through a divorce. >> he did. it was-- it was a deeply difficult time for him. and it was probably the thing he found hardest to have me write about.
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but i couldn't leave it out because it was clearly absolutely crucial in his life. >> rose: how so?his first marri, he entered into reluctantly to please his parents. his first wife was part of the orthodox german jewish community in washington heights. before he returned from europe, he insisted in letters to his parents that he did not want to marry her. he had been dating her before the war. but it happened. and i think it happened because he really wanted to-- in some measure be reconciled with him, despite his loss of faith, he was going to go through the marriage to in effect the girl next door. and it did not work out. he spoke to me on the subject with great feeling. after all, she was the mother of his two children. the marriage ended painfully and almost on an impulse after one ro-w too many and he then found
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himself having walked away almost everything he expected, on the basis of his parents exerntion, a stable family, a home with his own special study, walked away from it all and started his personal life again. and that i certainly could relate to. after all, part of the exercises of writing history is to empathize, to try to understand one's subject. on that particular point i think i had a fairly good understanding. >> rose: it is interesting poin. and ackers will say this about playing a character, you have to find some empathy, some. >> it's impossible, i think, to write a biography without achieving understanding. now to understand everything-- as somebody famously said, you pardon everything n that sense one is not the council for the defense, as sometimes people assume. the exercise of historical writing is an imaginative one. one trying to re-create, trying
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to recapture what it was like to be henry kissinger, at each staiblg in the story in 1923 all the way through to this halfway mark in 1968. and that i think is a very difficult thing to do if you des pies the person you're writing about. those historians who have tried to write books about people they don't like seldom put it off. i have abandoned projects because i did in the like the subject matter. i think one has to ultimately be able to identify enough or empathize enough to re-create that past thought process. for me the exciting thing about writing the book was discovering that that thought process was so different from what i had been lead to expect. i was planning on calling this book american machiavellie i realized in a week that it was irrelevant. in so far that kitioninger thought about machiaavellie it was to dismiss him. >> rose: but to talk about himtn
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policy today there is an element of understanding of what machiavellie understood, or not. >> no, i think not. the four things that i think really informed kissinger, and continue to inform kissinger's thinking are that history is to states what character is to individuals. you need to know the history to understand how the counterparty will act. what he calls the problem of conjecture. when you make a strategic decision, you do not know the future. you do not know the road not taken and nor do you know how the road you do take will turn out. your choices are probably going to be between evils, this is a really important point. are you not going to get many options that are truly nice and attractive. in foreign policy, you are mostly having to choose between evil. and finally and this is a crucial point he makes in connection with business mark, true realism, completely cynical pursuit of politics isn't sustainable because people won't follow you. you won't ultimately have
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legitimacy if you are seen to be completely without morals. in that sense i think he remains an idealist. even if that means doing some nasty things. because ultimately, if you are great strategic goal is to pursue-- to pressurize the soviets by opening to china, to get yourself out of vietnam, to kick the soviets out of the middle east, i would say those are the four major goals of the nixon administration, there are other things that you can't necessarily do as you might like to. there are compromises you will have to make with lesser actors in order to achieve your principle strategic goals. >> rose: how would you describe, say, his ego? >> well, i thought a lot about this. because there is a reputation for arrogance that occasionally his contemporaries referred to. i was struck by how much self-dep ri kateing humor there
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was from early on. i mean not just late in life when he grew more so fist kaitded. but even when he was in the army. there is a sort of growcho marks quality to some of these one-liner. it took me awhile to realize this. it's a style of human thary is very much of the wartime generation. when you say at a meeting, the illegal we can do immediately. the unconstitutional takes longer. if you take that quote out of contest. he said that, more or less. you take that quote out of context it sounds terribly shock. and a generation that came of aifnlg in 1968 has been getting indignant about that quote for decades. when you look at the original document it comes from, it is obviously a joke. and there are a great many jokes like that. and i talk about the kissinger sense of humor in the introduction, that can be taken out of context. if you don't quite get the style of humor that he is using. which is to disarm. you are trying to disarm people. here are you smart, jewish, pretty
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competent tent. >> rose: how smart.eally smart. is he one of the most intelligent people i've ever had to deal with. i can think of very few people who are that smart, that i've encounted erred. larry summers is a bit like that. you know are you in the presence of a for middable intellect that can probably beat you at any mental chess game that you may play. it's rare. i think when you are that smart, you have to di vice certain ways of disarming the people around you or they will resent you. >> rose: how about insecuritiest kissinger is not a hugely self-confident individual even today. there is a thin-skin there which i've come to know and to understand. i think if one thinks through the biography, the experience of the early years, maybe it takes somebody who has actually been a
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refugee at age 15, which i certainly wasn't, to understand what it is to be entirely uprooted. what it is to then be thrown in to the u.s. army when you only just learned english. those sorts of experiences, i think, shaped him. and i do sense that there is more insecurity in henry kissinger than there is arrogance. and i think if i had to choose between those two qualities, i would always prefer to be with an incure subject than an arrogant one. >> rose: was-- a shapinginfluen. >> yeah, and quite a bitd of the book is about harvard where i spent ten years of my life it was quite fun to try to understand it better. when he was in the army his men tour, a man named frits cramer said well, you've got to go to one of the ivies when you go back because you are worth more than city college. so he applied to all the ivy leagues and only harvard admitted him. the rest said are you much too late with your application.
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and from that moment on harvard had an enormous impact on him. his academic mentor, a big bluff southerner named william elliott was the one what steered him in the direction of the philosophy of camp. and then contemporaries like arthur sha lessinger, jr., stanley hoffman. >> rose: he just died, a greatf. >> with whom he was great friends in the 1960s and later, well, they fell out. >> rose: over war.over the war,d ya, over stanley hoffman's very critical reviews of kissinger's memoirs. so harvard is a big part of the story. and the rift between himself and his former colleges, tom shelling is another, is a part of this. >> rose: what impact does nancy. >> a big one. one of the things you can't find out about from documents is, a man's love life. that's the big problem for buy og fers, unless you are very lucky and your subject kept that
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sort or wrote love letters which he didn't. i thought i had figured a lot out in this book, particularly about the events of 1967 when he appeared to be involved in an extraordinary of the to try to begin negotiations with the north vietnamese. he spent a great deal of time in paris. just failing to establish contact with hanoi throughed north vietnamese representative in paris. and i thought this was all elaborate diplomatic gambit that failed until nancy kissinger asked the question, what do you think he was really doing in paris in 1967. and it turned out that she had been the real reason. that she had been studying there. and i could never have known that if i hadn't been told it. in fact, it turns out-- . >> rose: did you ask him, and he because i. >> she told me in front of him it was one of those moments late in the day when i more or less had finished the book and i had to go back and amend it that was humbling because it reminded me that no matter how many dusty
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documents you look through and i looked through tens of thousands, that there are always things,ed historian can never find out absolutely everything. but i have given it my best shot. >> rose: so knells so-- nelsonre influence. >> yes. and one reason i-- . >> rose: gave him a connectionte washington establishment? >> it's very interesting. when kissinger first encountered rock feller in the late 1950s. he was charmed by what he saw as the aristocratic charm of this man who had inherited such-- . >> rose: a man of power but amao had huge ambitions. >> right, grand houses, a million miles from a little apartment in washington heights. and i think the glamor of rockefeller certainly had its appeal. but kissinger was fascinated by this man who had such ambition to be president. he shot for the presidency, he
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shot at least for the republican nomination three times. and it occurred to me as i was following this story from one defeat to another that there was something puzzling about it. if henry kissinger had been the ruthless seeker of power that some people have portrayed him as, why did he stick with rockefeller through three failures? he was very loyal to rockefeller, even although it was pretty obvious to certainly more experienced observers. >> rose: there is no evidencetht nixon sowt out him? >> absolutely. he disliked nixon. said publicly that he disproved of him. didn't want him to be president. it was very unexpected when nixon made the call and offered him the job. so much so that when he first offered him the job and the transition in late 1968, he did it so bleakly that kissinger didn't realize that he was being offered the job of national security advisor. it had to be done twice. his thought was that nixon mielt offer rockefeller the department of defense. and they spent a lot of time
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think being the roll that kissinger might play as an assistant to defense secretary rockefeller. but nixon had no intention of having rockefeller anywhere near his administration. so that is an interesting story. they were an odd couple. and it certainly wouldn't have been something you would have predicted. did that already twice. should. he had done that before. in 1960 when kennedy had approached him. he had been an advise tore rockefeller in that whole campaign. but when kennedy went to the white house having defeated nixon and offered kissinger a job, the first thing nixon did was to say to rockefeller should i take it. and rockefeller said of course you do. when the president asks you to do something, you do it they had exactly the same conversation in 1968. >> rose: but do i hear you as ai can't wait to read the second
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volume, do i hear you saying that although those people who formed an opinion of henry kissinger because of his public life as national security advisor, as secretary of state, as a man who has continued to have a public roll, a relationship with presidents in many case, not with this president, but certainly with george bush, 43, frequently, do i hear you saying they're sort of almost unanimous judgement about him is wrong. that he's much more idealist than they ever knew? and that it wasn't just an idealism that went away when he had power, but it is still a part of his core. >> i think that's right. >> rose: you don't know.i think. the reason i say i think that's right is because i have the second-of his life still to write.
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>> rose: you have done theresea. >> have i done about 60% of the research. and still accumulating material. and the way i work, is that i a keum late, i accumulate, this is why this book took ten years, and then i read my way through it. and try to decide. i have still got to keep an open mind at this point. in order to do the second volume in the same spirit. >> rose: fair enough.but can i e second volume will be henry kissinger, 1968 to 2015, the journey from idealism to real politics. >> i lead the reader to nfer that that say possible subtitle or maybe the realist might be the subtitle am but i'm not sure yet. and i wouldn't be at all surprised if the documents, when i sat down and poured over them, surprised me again and gave me a completely different story from the one i'm expecting or half expecting to tell. >> rose: i'm sure you know thato the fact that it is over 870
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pages. >> no, not including. >> the footnotes are after that. >> yeah. >> footnotes go into 900 pages, by the way. >> this is certainly longer than a tweet. >> yes, st. >> but i think there was a figure of his importance. is he certainly the most controversial secretary of state, national security advisor in the modern era. merits a thorough scholarly biography of the sort that one might expect of a president. there were times in post war american history where henry kisessinger had near presidential power. the period when nixon was realing with watergate. it is an amazing story some of it seems to me he is worth this kind of a scholarly biography. few men have shaped american foreign policy, the foreign policy of a superpower as much as he has. not only in his time in
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government as i tried to show, even when he was an academic, he was shaping new clear strategy. so that is the argue for a long book. and your viewers will just have to forgive me if i impose a long arduous reading session on them i can only hope that it's relieved by some of kinger's whit civiles and reasonable writing on my part. >> rose: and there is this.he hk after book because he writes well. about his own life. >> every buyographer who deals with someone who has written a large memoir is engaged in a curious kind of counterpoint because the memoirs cover the time if government. they don't cover the earlier years. in writing volume two i'm going to be inevitably having an argument with henry kissinger and his version of events. and juks ta posing his account and mine will be part of the fun and the challenge of writing that second volume. >> rose: great to see you.thank. >> rose: niall ferguson, volumed 68, the idealist.
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thank you for joing us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us online at and charlie captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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